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TJ's Moss named Junior High Coach of the Year

| Monday, March 20, 2017, 7:15 p.m.
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Thomas Jefferson youth wrestlers Kale Buckiso (left) and Mike Zacur (right) pose with coach Jordan Moss during a postseason tournament in 2017.

It has been a memorable year for Jordan Moss, coach of the Thomas Jefferson junior high wrestling program.

Moss, 25, recently was voted WPIAL Junior High Wrestling Coach of the Year by the WPIAL coaches.

“It was an honor winning (the award),” said Moss, who was assisted by Donnie Cardone this season. “But I am nothing without first my family, my Sharon wrestling family, the Pitt wrestling family and TJ wrestling family. This is my 21st year in the sport. I've been involved in wrestling since I was 4 years old.

“I want to thank the (TJ) staff, coaches, and wrestling family — the wrestlers, parents and boosters. I can't stress enough how much support I've received, and how well we function as a family.”

Moss, employed as a financial solutions specialist by First Commonwealth Bank, is a former state champion from Sharon, and a former wrestler at Pitt. He also coaches at the Pittsburgh Wrestling Club and is an assistant varsity coach at TJ.

Five members of TJ's junior high team — Mike Zacur, Kale Buckiso, Brian Finnerty, Jake Fisher and Trystan Alava — qualified for the recent Pennsylvania Junior Wrestling state championships held in Johnstown — the most in one season in program history.

“Teams find success when they transition wrestlers from junior high up to varsity without any large gaps or glaring inconsistencies; That's where Jordan comes in,” TJ varsity coach Michael Ladick said. “I coached against Jordan back in 2010, and I've known about him being in the area for a while. I have nothing but respect for him as he's a phenomenal wrestler and his resume supports that; he's a four-time PIAA medalist and he wrestled for Pitt.

“But it wasn't until Chris Zacur, Michael's father, told me (Moss) was looking in the Jefferson Hills area for a coaching job that I contacted him. Now, the respect for Jordan has exponentially grown because, as a coach, he has more than lived up to expectations. When your peers vote you as WPIAL Junior High Coach of the Year, it says something about how important you are to the brotherhood of coaching and the wrestling community. Let me be very honest. No one coaches junior high wrestling for money or fame. Junior high coaches, along with the youth parents and coaches, have the hardest, most unappreciated jobs in the world. This is why Jordan is so amazing.”

This season, TJ's junior high team finished second and third, respectively, at the South Fayette and South Side Beaver tournaments, and placed in the top 15 at the Southwest Regional tournament.

“Things went well this year overall for the team,” said Moss, who has coached the Junior Jaguars for two seasons. “We were only missing five weights for the junior high lineup; it was a good turnout numbers-wise.”

Moss put in a full day during wrestling season. Along with his full-time job, he coached the junior high and varsity wrestlers at Thomas Jefferson. He also coaches at the Pitt Wrestling Club, where he helps Tyler Nauman and Drew Headlee run club practices for high school-aged grapplers looking to get in extra work.

“I attended both practices (at TJ) and helped out,” Moss said. “I still have some young blood in me to whoop up on everyone in the (wrestling) room. I want to see this program thrive because I know we have the group of kids to be great.

“I've come from great coaches. When I competed, I always believed in my coaches. The guys do here (at TJ), and you can see that.”

Moss also was named Class AA Assistant Coach of the Year in 2014-15 while at Avonworth. He's in the running for PIAA Junior High Coach of the Year laurels.

“Jordan is a consummate professional, and one of the most reliable young coaches in the business today,” Ladick said. “This is not to be taken lightly; Jordan is brilliant as a coach. The fact that he has never said or at times may even realize his own brilliance is what makes him a master coach.

“Jordan is a trend setter. Those junior high wrestlers want to look, walk, talk, act and wrestle like Jordan. I am lucky to have a group of wrestlers who have had the privilege to be under his tutelage.

“Personally, I hope one day I will be as cool as Jordan Moss; but until then, I'll just enjoy the show.”

Ray Fisher is a freelance writer.

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